Muharram, the first month of the Islamic Hijri Year, is of great significance to the Shia community as it marks the martyrdom of the Imam Hussain (raa) amongst other Islamic events. Muharram and following month Safar are considered to be months of mourning to Shias, where the streets and people dress in black, the streets of Manama and many villages hold processions (Aza’) and cauldrons of ”Al-Hussein’s rice” are cooked in the alleyways behind the Maatems feeding “those who mourn and who do not mourn” as the local saying goes.
One of the things I find intriguing about Muharram is the attempts of modernizing the season and create awareness in matters such as blood donation, whereas according to Al-Wasat newspaper, Bahrain collected more blood from donors than Morocco, a country with a population 30 times bigger than Bahrain. Most of these blood donation campaigns stem from Muharram and other Shia mourning-related occassions. Over the last couple of years, campaigns against littering during processions (imagine the litter of 70,000 people can do in one place) started to take effect in an effort to help the environment.
Another is “Hussaini Art”, painting, sculpture, theatre and many other art medias, all inspired by the martyrdom of Imam Hussein. These hidden talents between Bahrain’s youth only explode and expose themselves during the Muharram season for some reason. I only wished these talents showed more outside of the season and the “genre”.
Finally I would like to round up this post with a series of tweets from @JTheIslander hashtagged with #Ma2jooreen (which is the equivalent of “condolences” I guess) as he describes and rants about some of the things he sees at some processions:
1- Blasting 3aza from your car stereo with the windows rolled down does not make you “cool”. #Ma2jooreen
2- Don’t turn Facebook into an online matam if you won’t practice what you preach. #Ma2jooreen
3- You’re a douche for blocking the road with your fancy car.#Ma2jooreen
4- Wearing a Metallica/50cent/Jack-Daniels t-shirts to 3aza makes you look like a walking contradiction. #Ma2jooreen
5- If you practice 3aza to impress a girl, then you’re shallower than whoever you’re trying to impress. #Ma2jooreen
7- Teens, I hate to be break this to you, but it’s not a rock festival.#Ma2jooreen
8- Eat all you want, no one will judge you. Just please don’t litter.#Ma2jooreen
9- Keep your t-shirt on, no one needs to see your hairy man-boobs.#Ma2jooreen
11- Finally and most importantly, do reason. Don’t just follow the herd. LEARN SOMETHING. #Ma2jooreen